All posts by Marci

About Marci

Having first retired from social work in 2008, I've now had time to work through seasons of all play, and seasons of part-time work, while I figured out how best to make use of my "golden" years. The internet provides so much assistance in finding unlimited ideas related to finances, hobbies, travel and staying healthy, but I soon found my passion in quilting. The vast array of techniques have resulted in seeing inspiration everywhere, and practice is always rewarded with improved skills. Of course, grandchildren and family still get priority, but I see this as a pursuit that will remain interesting into my old age.

Winter’s Work, Put to Rest

Here in Mid-Michigan we experienced a relatively mild winter, but it has been very reluctant to leave.  That meant a lot of days when quilting was a very appealing activity, and all the projects destined for the Midland Quilter’s Squared Quilt Show, held last weekend, were completed in time:

Below is the completed Mystery Quilt, composed of many more tiny squares than have ever crossed my table before for a project.  Fortunately the errors aren’t too visible from here, and it makes me happy that my granddaughter, Isabella, is looking forward to receiving it.

 

This is a photo of another project I posted on earlier.  The blue fan squares were part of a 1930-40 quilt top which was quite misshapen and had never been finished by its creator.  The blocks were taken apart and reconstructed into flowers.  White sashing and borders were then added and I spent the entire winter hand quilting it during the long evenings.  The idea came from a presentation by Tim Latimer, but, unlike Tim, I am not very fast.

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The last photo is a small wall hanging, done for this years quilt show challenge.  We were to base our piece on a song.  This one was inspired by “Swing on a Star” written for Bing Crosby.  “Would you like to swing on a star…Carry moonbeams home in a jar…”

Swing on a star

So, at last, gardening time is approaching and I have lots of smaller projects on the way.  Happy May!

 

Hibernation Projects

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The hand quilting on the vintage project is coming along nicely, what with our long Michigan evenings.  Retirement finds me quite content to while away the hours with fabric in hand.  The vintage quilt ended up having nine squares, consisting of four fans put together to create flowers.  I am now quilting the eighth one, and, when the ninth is finished, will begin work on large-stitched vines in the borders, to help it blend with it’s surroundings when it reaches it’s home (the “She Shed” of a special friend).

The machine sewn project, which has been keeping me bIMG_20160125_165754usy most recently, is a “Mystery Quilt” project, organized by Midland Quilters Squared, to which I belong.  Each month we were given a segment of the directions, until this month, when the final diagram was revealed.  This has been a challenge for me, as piecing is not my favorite style and I am not given to perfectionism, so this has been a good stretching exercise for me.  Somehow, it has resulted in a gallon sized baggie full of extra squares and triangles, so I obviously misunderstood a direction along the way.  It was a happy day when it all came together this week.                                                                                                                                     Here is a closer view that also gives a better ideas of the colors.  (Pale sky blue and raspberries)IMG_20160125_165926

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Finally, the other technique tried since moving from the busy holidays into hibernation mode, was inspired by a class taught by Tawni Young from Interlochen, Michigan.  This was totally fun and a process that allows completion of a small landscape quilt in a day.  I believe it is termed “confetti quilting”, as you begin by shredding piles of several colors of fabric, using a rotary cutter.  The results are then sprinkled onto batting topped backing fabric.  Trees, etc. are then layered on with embroidery floss branches in places.  When happy with the result you cover all with black tulle and begin quilting.  The trees and any other large objects are outlined first, and you then just enjoy lots of free-motion quilting all over the rest, to hold everything together.  Tawni often puts hers in a frame, but here is my first attempt.

A new art quilt was started today.  More on that in the future.

Vintage Quilt Remake Progress

Quilting has been a daily event most of the week, as I finish up a few projects and continue to work on this one.  I finally have a project together that will hopefully keep my hand quilting skill intact through the long winter evenings.  It is a peaceful, relaxing activity at the end of the day.

Here is the previous photo of the quilt as it arrived.Vintage quilt on arrival

As you can see in the photo below, I have used 36 of the original 100 blocks, so I’m sure these will appear here again some day.  It measures about 58″ square, which will make a nice sized lap quilt for the garden.IMG_20151109_175859

After taking the original squares apart from each other, I squared up the corners with the quarter circles and added white borders to make each 8 1/2 “.  The fans were then arranged in circles, which was a bit like assembling a puzzle, as thy were irregular in size.IMG_20151107_102402687

Once this was accomplished and they were sewn together, they were attached to each other with 2″ borders and another 2″ border surrounds the whole thing.

It goes into my hoop tonight, which means it might be done by the end of the winter…maybe.

Restoring a Vintage Quilt – And So It Begins

Vintage quilt on arrivalAwkward vintage blocksThis beautiful old quilt top arrived in the mail about ten days ago.  As is the case with many of these old quilt tops available on e-bay, the quilter found that it wasn’t quite square and she never got around to quilting it.  Because the squares were so irregular, and because of the influence of Tim Latimer  (see timquilts.com), I decided to separate the blocks and make the quilt my own.  Above are two average blocks, to illustrate the irregularities.  Below is a shot of the back of a block, to show the hand work.

Pretty handwork

As I take the blocks apart I am pressingthem, squaring the corner with the fan, and trimming the other two sides in whatever straight line works.

vintage ready to square

I am now past half done with this chore.  Aren’t these old feed sack (?) prints pretty?

Pretty vintage block

White will be added to square them all out, so I had to try a couple to see how they looked.

Completed vintage block

It’s all a bit tedious as the squares were machine stitched, but I do think the result will be worth it.  Stay tuned.  Meantime I’ll also keep posting the other projects that are currently entertaining me.

Happy Halloween

IMG_20151031_095251Thought I would share my Halloween wall hanging and a few notes on it’s design.

It was inspired by a panel purchased at Material Mart here in Midland.  I knew I wanted to use it for some blocks in my own design, and began by paper piecing 3 pumpkins from a Leisure Arts book, “100 Paper Pieced Quilt Blocks”.  This book was published in 2009, so may be hard to find, but I especially like it because it includes a CD of the patterns so that they can be printed any size.  I keep a shelf of quilting books that include a wide variety of techniques, both as inspiration and for occasions such as this.

For me, paper piecing always includes a bit of quiet cussing and some seam ripping, but then it turns out looking just like it’s supposed to!  Very rewarding.

Anyway, once the pumpkins were done I mixed in some blocks taken from the panel and added borders using both panel and some other fabric I thought worked well, and here it is!

IMG_20151031_093846 Happy Halloween!

It’s a Mystery

IMG_20151029_111445741Here it is.  Piles of pieces, which my local quilt club, Midland Quilters Squared, tells me will become a quilt suitable to be shown in their show next spring.  This is my first mystery quilt experience, and I have some doubts.  This could be in part because my edges aren’t exactly even.   What is this?

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And how about this?IMG_20151029_111513501

There will obviously have to be some fudging involved.  I can’t very well start fudging until I get the gist of what is to come, though.  It is called “The Cat’s Meow”, so some of you may have knowledge of the pattern.  I stuck with plain fabrics in case there are actually cats involved, thinking I can dress it up with quilting.  Now you see why I am not crazy about traditional quilting.  I’d say I may not be very good at it.

I’ll show you my vintage quilt rescue progress in my next post.  That was so badly pieced that I will again feel good about my skills.

Meanwhile, feel free to send me your best piecing tips in the comment section.

Too Many Coffee Breaks

Paper Pieced Coffee Quilt
Paper Pieced Coffee Quilt

Believe it or not, I actually do quilt almost every single day.  Blogging about the work as I go, however, has not been my strong suit.  Maybe if I bring this quilt to my PC for coffee breaks, I could write a few lines about what I am working on daily.

You may have noticed that I don’t have a lot of interest (or ability, for that matter) when it comes to piecing by a pattern. It is exciting to me to try many different techniques, with the expectation that some trend will develop in my quilts, but thus far that hasn’t happened.  That being said, I am currently working on a quilt club “Mystery Quilt” which is involving hundreds of little pieces, which may (or may not) evolve into a neat, precise whole.

Also in the works, thanks to Tim Latimer  (see timquilts.com)  is a redesign of a vintage quilt top rescue.  I am still in the process of deconstruction, but have a plan in mind.  More on that later this week.

The third project in the works, which will also appear in days to come, is a baby quilt, designed in the black, white and bright colors that are of the most interest to infants.

So back to my Coffee Break Quilt.  I found a free paper-pieced pattern for the coffee cup on Pinterest, selected colors that make me happy, and surrounded the blocks with those colors in solids, to give me a nice background for machine quilting.  The backing is flannel, to make it a nice cozy quilt for actually curling up with a hot beverage.  Here’s a close-up, for a better look at the quilting.

Coffee Break detail
Coffee Break detail

Revisiting Portrait Quilting

Izzy on sax quiltIzzy saxIzzy on the Sax copy

My talented granddaughter recently experimented with the alto sax.  (This proud grandma can’t avoid mentioning the fact that she is proficient on the flute, but I’ll refrain from listing her other wonderful talents and attributes, so that we can get back to the quilting.)  I liked this photo so much that I wanted to try a wall hanging from it.  Here is the process used:

  1. The first step was using a photo editing program to posterize, change to gray scale, and enlarge the photo.  The enlarged photo was then printed in sections.  You may have to think through programs available to you, to accomplish this.  Once printed, the sections were overlapped and taped, to recreate the picture.
  2. Use a broad marker to outline the shapes you will use as patterns.
  3. I decided there were areas of background that could be pieced at random, and prepared these next.  (As the first photo shows, this included mainly areas to the upper right and upper left)  These were then attached to a light muslin base the size of the completed quilt.
  4. I now started building the images of granddaughter and sax from background pieces up, by tracing the desired area onto tracing paper and cutting them from my chosen fabric, already attached to a fusible backing.  These were pressed in place, sometimes directly onto the muslin, but at other times (such as in completing the face)  the pieces were first assembled by ironing them onto a non-stick surface.   An applique pressing sheet was used, but the release paper from a previous fusing process also works.  As pieces were added to the muslin they were machine stitched, using both straight and decorative stitches.  (Unfortunately the photos for this post are not clear enough to show detail, but this means you will freely use your own imagination.)
  5. When the image was complete, I chose to add borders, then a quilt sandwich was formed (quilt, light weight cotton batting and backing fabric) and was bonded together with basting adhesive.
  6. Now came the fun part.  Free-motion quilting was used to add dimension to everything.  If this is not joyful for you, however, a machine straight stitch would work just fine for all the quilting.
  7. A traditional binding was then attached.

While I enjoyed the process of this, my second portrait quilt, it has probably become just another chapter in my quilting education.  I am ever drawn onward to learning new techniques.  If another portrait quilt is attempted, I believe it will be more spontaneous and abstract.  But half the fun in this learning process is finding out what happens next!

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section, and I would love to hear about your quilting experiences.

Design Your Own Wallet

finished wallet

Summer is drawing to an end and I must return from the long vacation I gave myself from blogging.  The quilting has continued throughout, of course, so there is plenty to talk about.

This post is largely intended to inspire you to create your own custom utilitarian items, using your quilting skills.  You will see the insight to be gained from such projects.  In attempting my first wallet, I considered what I want to have with me, so that I am free from a larger purse.  In my case, that is ID, space for credit and reward cards, cash and my smart phone.  I wished to have a handle so that my hands can be free when shopping.

As the phone was the largest item, I calculated the finished size based on it’s dimensions X 3, and made a quilt sandwich about an inch larger all around, to allow for fabric covered by binding and that taken up by the quilting.  After quilting, it looked like this:Wallet quilting

I used one fabric for my wallet, but this would also provide an opportunity to be creative.  Keep in mind that you will eventually have to sew many layers together, and avoid extra seams at the edges.  The batting provides some extra protection for my phone, but you could use something with less weight if your machine has trouble with many layers.

One end was then folded up, for the phone pocket, and fabric was accordion folded and sewn to the outside of the pocket in a way that fit the number and size of my cards.  (See below)

Wallet prep 4

(In designing your own wallet, it might make more sense to arrange the card pockets on the side opposite the phone pocket, to create fewer layers.)

The handle loop is added at this point.  I used a detachable fastener purchased at JoAnn Fabrics, I created the handle and loop at the same time by folding in raw edges on the long side and stitching.  I then cut off a piece long enough for the loop on the wallet itself and attached it now.  Here is a view taken after the binding is added (unfortunately).  It does show that I chose to put it on the inside so that it is concealed at times I am not using the handle.

Fasten detail

So there we have it.  Add binding all the way around and you are finished.  As you can see, there is nothing precision needed to design your own items, just a willingness to experiment and come up with an item that meets your needs and can be adapted for gifting.

A Landscape Quilt from a Photo

Dunes photo
Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Northwest Michigan is an area of great beauty, and this is one of my favorite photogenic spots.  When faced with designing something for a Michigan themed auction, this was the scene I chose to work from.  I drew the scene freehand, to the best of my meager artistic ability, onto freezer paper, (Chosen for having some body, but being easy to cut.)  It would have been great if I had taken a photo of this step, but because it is a simple photo, you can easily find logical places for fabric changes.

Once fabric was chosen, I attached fusible web to an appropriate amount of fabric.  The freezer paper drawing was cut into pieces, and I chose to immediately trace these onto the backing of my prepared fabric.  Care was taken to see that the pattern piece was face down on the backing.

My pieces were laid out as they were cut, and I added overlap when I cut the pieces on which others would be layered.  If you are a beginner and this does not quite make sense, watch for my next attempt at a landscape and I will take it step-by-step.  (Of course, comments requesting this will motivate me to get this done, as that is just the way I am.  Retirement is blissful.)

Once the pieces for the picture were assembled, by pressing to bond over parchment (to protect the ironing board) I did some free-motion embroidery to create the trees, grass, flip-flop detail and wood grain on the planks.  Next the borders were added and the quilt sandwich was created.  The free-motion quilting is always my favorite part.  I know by then that it can only look better with each stitch.

Once assembled I did some free-motion embroidery for the tree, grass, flip-flop detail and wood grain on the ends of the walkway planks.  When this was finished I made my quilt sandwich and proceeded to the fun part of free-motion quilting.